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Sep 14, 2011

Bomb threat at Atlantic Bank during Sugar Industry Meeting

A mid-afternoon bomb threat at the Atlantic Bank headquarters on Freetown Road earlier today threatened to cancel a high level meeting between representatives of Banco Atlantida and stakeholders in the sugar industry.  Shortly before two o’clock employees of the bank, which was already closed for business, were informed that an explosive device had been planted somewhere on the premises.  Dozens of workers as well as officials from the bank’s parent company in Honduras, who were already present for a session to formally present its proposal for the buyout of B.S.I., were evacuated to the nearby streets where they awaited an all clear from a bomb expert who was called in to comb the building.  On the other side of Freetown Road stood B.S.I.’s Chief Executive Officer Joey Montalvo, board member Godwin Hulse and Horris Patten, president of the Belize Workers Union.  After several minutes, the venue of the meeting was abruptly changed to the Santa Rita room of the Radisson where the parties deliberated for a little over three hours.  At the end of the sit-down News Five spoke with Earl Lopez, vice president of BWU, who told us that the visiting Banco Atlantida officials made it clear to them that the Belize Sugar Industries is in dire straits.  Lopez also reiterated that while discussions remain ongoing about the fate of shareholders’ dividends the bigger picture for them is identifying a strategic investor that is willing to make the investment in improving the operations and bottom line at B.S.I.

Earl Lopez

Earl Lopez, Vice President, Belize Workers Union

“Well Atlantida was being very frank with us—the industry is in a state of financial distress and we need to find a short and long term solution for the long term viability of the company. We are not partial to anyone right now. We are looking for any strategic investor that will bring the maximum return for us and the industry.”

Isani Cayetano

“What is Banco Atlantida’s position at this position at this point in time? I know that you mentioned that they have made it quite plain that the industry is in dire straits. What is their formal position with regards to the ongoing negotiations?”

Earl Lopez

“Well it’s just that they are saying that they are still doing their due diligence—they don’t want to make any mistakes because it can be costly, but they are committed. The one thing that they mentioned is that we need to make changes to the law as it relates it cane. We need to change that in order for us to move forward.”

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of the B.S.C.F.A. and the proposal that they were willing to present in terms of buying into B.S.I. and the operation. Was that discussed this afternoon any at all?”

Earl Lopez

“No that was not discussed. This, B.S.C.F.A. and Banco Atlantida are both parties that are interested, but we didn’t discuss that today.”

Isani Cayetano

“Speak to me on where the union stands in all of this. I know the Belize Workers Union which is partly the Employees’ Trust owns eighty-one percent of the shareholdings in B.S.I. speak to us whether or not this will affect the shareholdings at any point.”

Earl Lopez

“In terms of the union, it really wouldn’t affect the union because we asked the people at the head table if they will respect our bargaining agreements and so forth and they said that they would respect that. As far as the eighty-one point two nine percent that we do own, our shares will not be on sale; it will be an increase in share capital. So to say with that increase we would come down from eighty-one point two nine percent to about forty percent. We have not finalized how much Atlantida—if they were to be successful in their bid—it would be between fifty-one and seventy-five percent. We’ve not finalized that as yet because like I’ve said before we are still in discussion.”

Isani Cayetano

“You guys had a pretty lengthy deliberation this afternoon, does it seem favorable either way in terms of what was discussed in the meeting?”

Earl Lopez

“I cannot say that anything is favorable. Like I said, we are just here to listen and any strategic investor that will bring maximum returns to us and the industry that is what we are for.”

Isani Cayetano

“And how does their proposal sound at this point?”

Earl Lopez

“Well their proposal sounds very good, but I am not in a position to say I am in favor of it or I’m not. I am just neutral; we are just listening right now.”

The ING has extended the September deadline for payment of twenty million US dollars for another year while the government, we understand, is also delaying payment of the ten million dollar bailout loan from Social Security.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “Bomb threat at Atlantic Bank during Sugar Industry Meeting”

  1. I Have Awaken says:

    Will only be a matter of time these threats turn to reality.

  2. Rod says:

    No vayan a to mar este negosio con banco atlantida pirate barrow esta metido con esta jente y el y su familia van a hacker dinero si esto pasa no Sean pendejos .

  3. RedBwai says:

    Damn Rod…english please!!….dah Belize wi deh….ur not a TRUE Belizean if u cant at least speak some creole or english ….dats my belief…

  4. latinos del norte says:

    damn to u redbwai….. belize is also made of spanish speaking persons! no seas pendejo tu!

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